Aug. 11, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. — Monday will be Decision Day in college baseball. Aug. 15 is the deadline for Major League Baseball teams to sign players taken in the previous June’s MLB Draft, and NC State will be awaiting word on four drafted recruits, including Holly Springs pitcher/first baseman Carlos Rodon.
The Milwaukee Brewers took the lefthanded Rodon in the 16th round, but the consensus is that he is more in line with a third- to fifth-round talent. He certainly played like a high-round pick this spring for the Golden Hawks.
On the mound, Rodon went 11-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 135 strikeouts. This was after he went 10-1 with a 0.80 ERA as a junior in 2010. His career record was 23-2. Offensively, he batted .370 as a senior with three home runs and 25 RBIs. With Rodon leading the way, Holly Springs went 27-2 and won the 2011 North Carolina 4-A state championship.
After a season like that, it’s no surprise that the postseason awards came flowing Rodon’s way. He was an easy pick for all-state for the second year in a row, and was named the Tri-Nine Conference player of the year, likewise for the second year running.
Later in the summer, Baseball America named him a third-team high school All-American, and in early August the North Carolina High School Athletic Association named him the 2011 North Carolina High School Player of the Year to put the finishing touches on a storybook senior year.
“I’ve had a lot of honors come my way this year, including North Carolina Player of the Year, and I’m truly flattered by all of them,” Rodon said. “There are so many great players in this state. To be chosen player of the year is really an incredible honor.”
Before all those honors sink in, however, Rodon has a decision to make. Again, pro teams have until midnight Monday night to sign players drafted in June or lose their signing rights. For Rodon, who signed a national letter-of-intent with NC State last November, that means he either signs with the Brewers by Monday night or comes to college and plays for the Wolfpack the next three years.
If Rodon opts to play collegiately, there is little question in head coach Elliott Avent’s mind that the young lefthander would make a big and immediate impact on the Wolfpack. Two-way players who can contribute both ways as freshmen are a rare commodity. The fact that Rodon grew up in NC State’s back yard is an added bonus.
More important to Avent, however, is the fact that Rodon is the type of person who should fit seamlessly into the NC State locker room right away.
“Carlos Rodon is obviously a great player and a great talent, but beyond that he’s a great young man and a great teammate,” Avent said. “We’re very hopeful that he’ll choose to join our program because we know that he’ll be a great representative of NC State baseball. He’s exactly the kind of young man we want in our program.”
Holly Springs head coach Rod Whitesell knows Rodon well. For selfish reasons he’d like to see Rodon play collegiately, just because Whitesell would be able to watch his best player for another three years. Whitesell said that if he opts to go to NC State, Rodon’s transition to college baseball should be an easy one because of his combination of talent and competitiveness.
“He throws real free and easy, and the ball just explodes out of his hand,” Whitesell said. “The ball gets on hitters really fast. Combine that talent with the fact that he’s a great kid and a great competitor and you’ve got a special player. He loves to be on the mound in big situations. He never wants to come out of a game. He wants to be out there. He competes every pitch, every inning, and he just loves to win. He’s a great kid and he works so hard. He really loves the game of baseball.”
In the end, Rodon is most likely in a no-lose situation. He’s said that he won’t sign a professional contract unless the money is right. If he decides instead to play collegiately, he has a chance to further develop his talents in one of the best conferences in college baseball while getting three years of an invaluable college education under his belt.
“It’s a really a hard decision,” Rodon said. “In a way, I don’t feel like I can make a wrong choice, but that just makes it harder. I would love to be part of the Wolfpack. Coach Avent, coach Holliday, coach Hart and coach Ward are all great coaches and I really get along with all the players I’ve met on the team. I’d love to be a part of that. At the same time, I have to wait and see exactly what my options will be before I make a decision. If everything works out right, I’ll be a part of the Wolfpack.”
We’ll find out Monday. It will be a big day for Rodon, and hopefiully an equally big day for Wolfpack baseball.